Air pollution leading contributor to NCDs

November 22, 2018 - 10:47

TEHRAN – Air pollution is the second most common cause of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which has a high correlation with heart and brain stroke, diabetes and many respiratory diseases, deputy Health Minister has said.

“NCDs often associated with preventable risk factors like physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol and tobacco, are related highly to recently-known environmental factors,” IRNA quoted Alireza Raeisi as saying on Wednesday.
Referring to the first WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health held in Geneva, Switzerland on October 30 to November 1, he said that air pollution is the leading environmental health risk people are facing worldwide.
“Some 92 percent of the people globally breathe polluted air, even indoors, which has affected over 2 billion people, breathing pollutants like wood smoke, cooking fires and etc.,” he highlighted.
In Iran, especially in metropolises, air pollution mostly increases at an alarming rate in the second half of the year, Raeisi said, adding, despite the measures taken to mitigate traffic-related pollution, it is still far from the desired situation and more serious measures are required in this regard.
He went on to explain that the issue of sand and dust storms hitting provinces of Ahvaz, Sistan-Baluchestan and southern part of the country, is also worrisome, as air pollution in these areas have exceeded the safe levels more than the capital.
The World Health Organization also emphasizes that all related organizations and responsible bodies must cooperate efficiently to overcome the issue, he added.
The Ministry of Health is responsible for air pollution in two ways, initially, to prepare an annual report on the impact of air pollution on public health, including deaths and illnesses attributable to air pollution, secondly, to develop training courses on air pollution master's degree and train experts in this field, he further explained.
He also added that many other tasks lie with other responsible bodies, including fuel quality control, traffic congestion mitigation, pollutant businesses and industries closure.
Any industrial units must be issued a non-pollutant license, while over 60-70 percent of the country's large industries do not have the license, which is essential in order to reduce air pollution, he highlighted.
At least since last few years, there has been a stringent crackdown on issuing the aforesaid licenses, which the Ministry is also involved in, he concluded.
According to the WHO report ‘Preventing Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) by Reducing Environmental Risk Factors’, ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor) air pollution caused more than 6 million deaths from these diseases in 2012.
Globally, 23 percent of all deaths could be prevented through healthier environments. Children are most at risk with growing evidence indicating that early life exposure to environmental risks like chemicals and air pollutants increases the lifetime risk of developing NCDs.  

Worldwide, almost one third of the cardiovascular disease burden is attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution by 17 and 13 percent respectively, second-hand tobacco smoke 3 percent and exposure to lead 2 percent. Globally 29 percent of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease deaths are attributable to indoor air pollution, 8 percent to outdoor air pollution and 11 percent in workplaces.

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